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Here is Crime.ie’s rundown of the most successful Gardai operations in recent times.

Operation Amethyst – The child porn sting that famously resulted in the arrest of Darina Allen’s husband. ‘Amethyst’ launched in 2002 when the US postal service passed information about 130 Irish citizens onto the Gardaí as part of their investigation into the largest commercial child pornography enterprise in US history. The homes of over 100 suspected users of the site were raided, including two Gardaí and the founder of Clara Lara theme park. Circuit Judge Brian Curtin also faced charges when details of his credit card were retrieved from the site, but the case later collapsed as the warrant used to seize his computer had expired.

Operation Anvil – Set up in response to an increase in gun crime in 2005, ‘Anvil’ targeted Limerick and Dublin gangs as well as republican dissidents. Gardaí recovered €5.7 million worth of stolen property and 359 firearms in the first ten months of the operation which largely consisted of surveillance exercises. By 2009, the programme had racked up 8,700 arrests for serious offenses. ‘Anvil’ also spawned Operation Oak, which many credit with dismantling the criminal organisation of Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland. Despite being credited with stopping the worst violence of the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud, as well as arresting or forcing criminals to flee Limerick, Anvil’s budget was halved in 2011.

Operation Bliain – After 313 burglaries were reported to Limerick division in the first quarter of 2012, checkpoints were set up around Limerick city as part of Operation Bliain. Gardaí also ran an awareness campaign to encourage the public to report suspicious vehicles in Limerick suburbs. On the May 2, 2012, a car ran through a number of these checkpoints on the road from Limerick to Cork. Gardaí pursued the vehicle across bogs and fields where they arrested a 23-year-old man believed to be part of a Cork traveller gang thought to be responsible for the recent spate of burglaries. The Gardaí plan to continue the operation until August.

Operation Hawkeye – Over €30,000 worth of stolen property was recovered when police raided six properties in Tallaght and the North Circular Road. Operation Hawkeye targeted a Romanian gang working in the inner city specialising in ‘distraction’ crimes, where incidents were staged to distract victims at ATMs, pubs and clubs while their accomplices pickpocketed them. The operation resulted in 12 arrests and hundreds of thousands of cigarettes intended for sale being found in house raids. It would later spawn a sequel – 19 addresses were searched and eight people were arrested in the impressively titled ‘Operation Hawkeye 2’.

Operation Nitrogen – It was believed that a large number of ‘growhouses’, indoor cannabis nurseries, had been set up around Ireland by Asian gangs. Since Operation Nitrogen’s searches began large numbers of Irish growhouses were also discovered. These ranged from industrial sized operations with specialised light, heat and irrigation systems to small set-ups hidden behind fake walls in vacant houses. Since it began, ‘Nitrogen’ has seized plants worth over €6 million, including €800,000 worth of cannabis found in a disused factory in Cork last month – the biggest growhouse haul in Ireland to date. Some criticise the campaign, pointing out that some of those arrested grew small amounts for personal use, including a 52-year-old Welsh biochemist and a 65-year-old man who claimed to use it for medical reasons.

Operation Stilts – After a report found that tourists often felt unsafe in the areas around O’Connell St., Gardaí began a campaign to ‘move on’ addicts from the tourist and retail centres.  The focus of ‘Stilts’ is along the Liffey boardwalk and the stretch from Connolly to Heuston station, sometimes dubbed ‘Junkie corridor’ due to the 61 locations in the area that cater to drug addicts, such as methadone clinics and needle exchanges. Gardaí stopped and searched 3,217 people as part of the campaign in the first two months of this year.

Published by Crime.ie in May 2012

It can be found online at: http://crime.ie/20120524/crime-ies-guide-to-the-biggest-and-best-gardai-operations/#

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